On the second Friday of Vijay Krishna Acharya’s Thugs Of Hindostan (with Rs 140 crore on a reported budget of Rs 300 crore), it looks like Aamir Khan might have actually made his first box office failure in over 18 years. Aamir’s last box office failure was Mela, and it’s only understandable that his contemporary – Shah Rukh Khan would offer words of comfort. SRK, himself, bore the brunt of a box office failure last year when Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal was panned by the critics and masses alike.
Shah Rukh goes a step ahead in Aamir and Amitabh Bachchan’s defence and says that he realises that people might have been ‘too harsh’ on the film. In an interview with The Telegraph, SRK was quoted as saying, “There are people who have given excellence to cinema for years. A film can be good, a film can be bad; none of us can ever claim ki ‘maine duniya ki sabsi achchi film banayi hain.’ Mr Bachchan and Aamir have been people who have constantly contributed to the excellence of cinema. The greatest contribution to Hindi cinema in the last 10 years has been from Aamir, and with Amitji, it’s been even longer. Now if a film of theirs (Thugs of Hindostan) doesn’t reach the level that you expected it to, does it take away from what they have done for cinema?”
Shah Rukh makes a passionate case for his good friends, but his argument is seriously flawed. Should people react to Thugs Of Hindostan, keeping in the mind the stellar contribution of the two actors shouldering the weight of the film? No. That’s what feeds this superstar culture in Bollywood, where people are ‘pardoned’ bad films because they made a ‘good film’, once upon a time. It’s been the case with Shah Rukh Khan, who hasn’t been trashed as an actor just yet, because two of his films from a decade ago – 2004’s Swades and 2007’s Chak De India!
Should a bad film be called out? Absolutely. This is the audience’s reaction to what kind of films it wants to see in the future. And frankly, this message should have been sent to the director-actor duo right after Dhoom 3, which was deplorable and yet made tonnes of money.
Shah Rukh Khan’s logic spills over into his personal equation with both Aamir and Amitabh Bachchan. He also says, “I think some people have been a little too harsh. Aamir has never done a film in which he hasn’t put in his best… I’ve known him for 20 years. And if there’s anyone who can put in even more effort than Aamir — it’s Amitji… and at this age! Thugs has tried to introduce this genre and kabhi kabhi upar neeche ho sakta hai. But the fact remains that in our cinema, we haven’t made an Indiana Jones and screw the comparison yaar, humne Pirates of the Caribbean bhi nahin banayi. So props to them for the attempt.”
So here’s the thing Shah Rukh Khan, if you’re seriously talking about championing new genres and films with ‘ambition’ – Thugs Of Hindsotan is the last one that needs your endorsement. What about films like Bhavesh Joshi Superhero? Or even the more recent Tumbbad? One tried to reinvent the superhero genre by fusing it with the angry young man genre of the 80s, and the other is arguably the BEST horror film to have been made in Hindi in the past 20 years. How about you look outside your bubble and your friends circle, and if you really want to endorse ‘important films’ that open ‘new genres’ for Bollywood – please be up to speed.
The thing is that, Bollywood chooses polite hypocrisy over speaking their mind, every day of the week. And it’s no different for Shah Rukh Khan. He’s just watching out for people, he will bump into at the next social gathering. No one cares about quality filmmaking in Bollywood any way.
Yes, it’s a GREAT thing that Thugs Of Hindostan got slam-dunked by the audience. In an industry, where mediocre to bad films make the money, it’s absolute justice that a bad film like this film has been rejected.